The Post Office needs to improve its offer to retailers if it is going to fill rural demand for banking services, according to rural policy consultant Brian Wilson.

Speaking at the ACS Rural Shop Report parliamentary launch Wilson said that bank branch closures in market towns should “be an opportunity for stores with a post office to step up.”

However, he said there were major barriers for the Post Office to overcome before it can fill the gaps in rural areas. The consultant explained: “I see two issues. One is the level of payment retailers receive per transaction, the margin has been squeezed. The second is the need for better training for staff, PO Ltd need to offer more training due to the high turnover of store staff.”

ACS CEO James Lowman added there needed to be “more open source access to banking” in rural communities and asked if the retailers could be allowed to bank the same amount per transaction as central Post Office branches (£20,000) rather than the current cap (£2,000).

Post Office representative Mark Handley responded to Lowman that increasing the cap was possible on a case by case basis.

Post Office retail engagement manager Kathryn Hollingsworth said the company was providing extra support to rural subpostmasters to allow them to: “become hubs of their communities, providing vital retail, banking and Post Offices services together.”